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Immune system is always working even though we know it or not. This week we are learning the basics of the immune system with some key terms for the topic. Also it is always a good idea to take a step back from a complicated topic, to those interested, off we go!

The immune system is basically designed to recognize and respond to non-self antigen, i.e. a foreign molecule in the body (mostly proteins). Additionally it also recognizes and responds to cells that are no longer healthy. It is divided into 2 systems that are complementary to each other: innate and adaptive immune systems.

How do they work together?

Once a pathogen has broken through the defense barriers of the body, the innate immunity is immediately activated and it is usually able to eliminate the infection by itself.

When the pathogen keeps replicating despite the innate immune response, the adaptive immunity is activated by the innate immune system. Typically it takes 1-2 weeks for the pathogen to be cleared from the body by the adaptive immune system. 

When the body is cleared of the pathogen, both systems cease to function. Antibodies, effector cells and memory cells stay in the body which protects the body from potential infections.

To support your readings, we encourage you to watch the following 7 minute video by Science ABC:

How does it work when the pathogen is influenza virus?

Sometimes the pathogens replicating in the body may cause bad feelings and deaths, but the case is not the same with the influenza virus. The reason why is that the immune system which is trying to control the virus that causes the damage is causing those complications. That immune response which is called immunopathology is a very serious complication of flu.

However this complication does not last so long, rather in under two weeks the immune system is able to clear the virus without any trace of it (except the memory cells and antibodies, for sure.) Usually for patients that two weeks is a very long time. To be able to be assisted for upper respiratory tract infections such as influenza itself without having to wait long lines, you can download the FluAI from Apple and Android devices.

References:

University of Minnesota Medical School. (2019, October 23). Immune response to influenza. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 7, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191023104604.htm 

Abbas, A. K., & Lichtman, A. H. (2006). Basic immunology: Functions and disorders of the immune system. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders.

Author

ELİF BAŞAK ALÇO

PM & CLINICAL TEAM

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